Friday, November 10, 2006

On living in a two-flat

The whole experience of renovating the 2nd floor has been an interesting one. While some are drained of all energy during a remodeling project, others are energized and inspired. We, for the most part, fall into the energized category.

Something about making a vision come true motivates me. And I've learned that I really enjoy working with my hands and working with wood. I didn't really know this about myself until this summer.

The whole idea behind remodeling the 2nd floor was so we could attract a better tenant- not so we could move upstairs. Of course, seeing it look so lovely makes me want to live in it, but I can't live in the whole building. We need the rental to help with the mortgage. These are the facts of our life.

The comments I've gotten about this project have made me think about what it means (or can mean) to live in a 2-flat. I've mentioned before that my childhood home was a 2-flat (see b/w photo) on a block that reminds me alot of Aaron & Jeannie's- very neighborhoody and filled with kids my little sister and I played with outside all summer long. Our one block seemed like a mile to us. So much took place there. So many games of Statues, Dracula, War, visits to "The Jungle", which was the overgrown area between our building and the one next store. It all took place on Washtenaw.

One summer, we deforested "The Jungle" to grow a vegetable garden. Boys came and trampled our lettuce, but we perservered. It was too shady really to grow much but hostas or ferns in there, but it makes a nice memory.

We had a family that lived in the 2nd floor and their son Max was a good friend. He was a daredevil kind of boy who threw himself off the 2nd floor porch into a snow bank thinking it would be neat to jump into a bank of snow and broke his arm in the process. I think he put his head through a glass window at least twice. Like I said, he was a wild one. He had the world's best scream too. I can still remember it.

We loved him and his parents Margaret & Tom. Margaret grew vegetables in the back yard and was a vegetarian. We used to sneak Max our forbidden candy. They made some noise, but it never bothered us. It was pretty harmonius that I remember. Perhaps because I had such a happy childhood in our 2-flat, I feel so at home in ours.

I'd like to create that situation here. Call me an idealist (I've been called this before), but I'm putting it out there. We're trying to create a nice place in our building and in our community too.

We learned an important lesson with our last tenants. That is is better to wait for the right tenant, then just take the first available. In the end, it will cost us less money because the apartment will be better cared for and it will most certainly bring us less headaches.

And quite frankly, I do believe we can make our dreams come true. I'm seeing it happen all over houseblogs every day- step by step by step!


Ms. P in Jackson said...

You worded your recollection nicely, I enjoyed reading it. It reminded me a lot of my own.

The work you two have done is really amazing. I hope you soon find a really great tenant to live upstairs.

Anonymous said...

Your upstairs apartment turned out beautifully. I'm sure you'll find those special tenants! I'd want to live there. :)

Anonymous said...

Great memories- thanks for sharing. I'm sure you'll get the right tenant and a whole new generation of awesome memories will begin anew!